Tuesday, November 10, 2009

House, "Known Unknowns": Truth and consequences

Spoilers for last night's "House" coming up just as soon as I say raid the mini-bar...

I'm going to ignore the stuff that happened at PPTH with the patient and Cameron and Chase, because I don't much care about any of that if House isn't directly involved. (Unsurprisingly, the only part of that storyline I enjoyed was House solving the case on speaker phone.) The grown-ups at the convention, on the other hand? Very interesting, even if I didn't like every decision that was made.

Again, the hook for me this season is watching House attempt to grow and change - and watching Hugh Laurie play that growth and change - and so I was gratified to see House finally be candid about his feelings for Cuddy, and give Wilson a good pep talk while saving his career in the process. Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard both brought their A games this week.

(This being "House," of course, the progress has to come in baby steps, so we also got House leering at Cuddy's typically inappropriate work outfit, and House drugging Wilson in order to save his career. But the guy needs to retain some abrasiveness, or else the show becomes too flat, right?)

What I'm not particularly happy with is the return of Lucas the private eye as Cuddy's new boyfriend.

I like Lucas quite a bit and was sorry to see Michael Weston leave the show, particularly after the spin-off David Shore was planning for him didn't sell. So it's not that I don't want to see him.

Nor is it that I'm upset there's another obstacle in the inevitable House/Cuddy romance. As with most TV 'ships, I don't care one way or the other if the couple gets together; I just want things to be interesting along the way. And the writers did establish that Lucas had a thing for Cuddy when he was still appearing last season, so it's not out of the blue.

My problem is that this seems like a waste of Lucas, if they were going to bring him back. Weston and Laurie played so well together, and it was really charming to see House have a friend (albeit one he had to pay) who was largely on his own wavelength, that I don't particularly want to see them as adversaries. Yes, House is being mature now, and acknowledging that Lucas is probably a more reliable man to be in a single mom's life. But sooner or later, there will be shenanigans, and I'd much rather Lucas and House be on the same side (possibly going after some other random dude Cuddy's dating), not as rivals.

What did everybody else think?


Unknown said...

I love these baby steps, and seeing House try to become something more than just a misanthropic SOB. We, the viewers, have seen glimpses of that over the years, but the journey for him to tap into that is a fascinating one to watch.

I haven't really decided about Lucas, although I like the idea of Cuddy having someone she can confide in who knows and likes House -- and at the same time it widens her circle, along with Rachel, of course. I actually think it would be interesting to see if this House, trying to be someone different, actually responds by NOT trying to sabotage things with Lucas, rather than falling on his old standbys.

dez said...

My fave part of the ep was seeing House in costume. Gave me happy flashbacks to "Black Adder" (even though the costumes were quite different). Too bad they didn't get the same outfit from BA, though perhaps Laurie didn't want to go that far.

I wish they'd get House/Cuddy over with so they can move on. It's tiresome.

Anonymous said...

Wish they would finally bring House and Cuddy together. I have waited long enough. They belong together.

Yet another anonymous said...

I am enjoying the gradual shifts in House, as much as I still enjoy some of his old antics at play - balance is the key, and so far in this season, it's feeling right most of the time.

Alan, I, too, didn't care about the PotW nearly at all the whole time.

As for Lucas, when the camera panned to him, I was thinking 'say wha'?' I was certain that somehow I missed something earlier in the season that indicated this relationship, because it was SO FAR OUT in left field. I really don't get it, even as I like the actor very much. So, whatever they do with him with Cuddy is fine, but writers, please don't make it a big part of the show.

I AM glad that Chase finally told Cameron, but now the inevitable march toward the end is coming.

Ultmately, a pretty good episode. I will say, though, that these days, it's all about House/Wilson for me. I don't know if that's good or bad for the show overall.

Epiphany said...

There was a lot going on in this episode and I could've done with less of the POTW so that we could've had more time devoted elsewhere.

Couldn't help giggling at the 80s party, especially when I spotted the Boy George! Great fun. A shame it wasn't a bit longer; you just can't go wrong with the 80s.

I am totally invested in House's post-recovery journey - totally. He's still the incredibly complex and intriguing House that we've come to know and love, but he's also revealing even more dimensions. We've got a House that still leers at 'Selma and Patty' but also, a House that offers to babysit! I had to check that I wasn't in The Twilight Zone when I heard that.

And as shocking (and welcome) as it was to hear House openly admit his feelings for Cuddy, it's his loyalty and love for bestest bud Wilson that really resonates.

I'm actually liking the fact that Lucas has been set-up as House's love rival. At least it's a bit of continuity. However, I don't want the writers to devote too much time to the Cuddy/Lucas relationship - it's not necessary. They're dating - we get it, we don't need more of it.

Talking of things we don't need, brace yourself Alan - Thirteen's back next week.

Matt said...

Speaking solely for myself, I don't mind Thirteen as a character and a part of the team--her "I don't give a damn because I'm dying" is an interesting twist on things. I do, however, mind the endless Thirteen/Foreman relationship crud.

Kate said...

Usually I agree with you Alan but this time, we're 180 degrees apart.

But I will agree that right now the show is resting on the acting talents of Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard because the writing has become unbearably bad.

I've watched the show since the pilot but the House/Wilson/Cuddy interactions just get more and more contrived and more and more stupid. Wilson takes House to the conference because the shrink told him "to be there for House". Puhleeze, he didn't mean change House's diapers. House goes because Cuddy will be there but he still has no clue she's with Lucas. What happened to the BFF that they were selling with House and Cuddy last season? Great to see two "soulmates" (and I say that very sarcastically) who don't even have basic communication skills.

For the ten millionth time, there is a natural stopping point for them to stop pushing House/Cuddy and they don't take it. Or go with it.

I'm old enough to know that being an adult is defined by how you act, not how many birthdays you've celebrated and I think the real adults in this episode were back at PPTH. (I'm older than House himself but let's not dwell on that.) They could have done a good Mad Men episode about fear and self-assement post Dibala with Chase, Cameron and Foreman but because the show seems to be all about House's relationship with Cuddy these days, the fallout is used only as filler or plot contrivace to push Cameron away. You got glimpses of the conflict but only due to the acting of Spencer and Morrison, it certainly wasn't there in the writing and Epps phoned it in once again. (Giving a character a sinecure is never a good idea.) The writers seem to have completely forgotten that Cameron has a connection with euthansia herself, as they've forgotten that real House hates to draw attention to himself when they put him in that unmissable costume.

Overall, a very disappointing episode from Doris Egan and Matt Lewis. The research was unforgivably sloppy, they seem to have no idea how conferences actually work, the dropped threads limited the potential of the episode, and the Huddy writing is so ridiculous there's nothing to do but mock at it. They again re-invented House's backstory, this time to make it fit with the Huddy ship. (He was kicked out of Hopkins, not Michigan, and this makes it impossible to get the international reputation we're told he had before the infarction.)

There was a time that this show was great because it was intelligent enought that you didn't have to park your brain to enjoy it. Now it's either that or copious amounts of alcohol to get through it. Another step away from the medical procedural into Desperate Housewives territory.

Anonymous said...

I neither loved nor hated it, I just didn't feel like it was a finished product. It felt very disjointed to me, not only because the connection between the POTW and the conference seemed very forced, but because it just didn't feel right. Sometimes that's good, but in this case it just felt like something was missing.

That aside, I love Michael Weston in anything and everything, so if they wanna keep bringing him back, I don't care. I agree with Alan that I'd much rather see Lucas and House on the same side and, in my opinion, something felt a little off about his character this time compared to when we first met him, but given that I've been pretty pleased with the last couple of eps, I'll reserve judgement on the new direction of Lucas and the whole Lucas/Cuddy thing until I see more.

Alan Sepinwall said...

in my opinion, something felt a little off about his character this time compared to when we first met him

That's my other problem. Lucas didn't seem like Lucas. He just seemed like some random guy.

MDT said...

This is completely random, but it seemed like a good place to ask: does anybody know which lake they filmed the conference scenes on (near)? I got an email from my parents (who are NJ born and raised - and still longtime Ledger subscribers!) this morning saying it looked like a great place to retire to.

JanieJones said...

Kate, I picked up on the same misstep regarding which school he was kicked out of too. I am not a House/Cuddy fan. However, the writer's can only drag this on for so long. I like Cuddy when she is independent and working on her own devices. House finally opened up to her, which is a good step. I was most interested in the exchanges between Wilson and House. Those two are very good together. It's usually the brightest spots on the show when they are interacting.
I had not interest in the PoTW. Although, I was glad that Chase told Cameron about killing the general. However, it makes me sad because the end is near for the two of them.
I was happy to see Lucas (Michael Weston). He is a good actor and I'd rather have he and House be on the same team than the opposite. I wasn't surprised to see him, Cuddy (as is her choice) wants companionship and someone to rely on, I do not blame her. She may have very strong feelings for House but she wants someone she can rely on and House doesn't come to mind.
I did feel uncomfortable when Lucas was running down the laundry list of House's downfall that led to hospitalization. It's a typical Michael Weston move (he seems to play many characters that put his foot in his mouth) House was amenable (by putting on a good face) by accepting the ginger ale.
Again, the most interesting for me was the House/Wilson interaction. RSL deserves some kind of recognition for his good work on this show, since it began.

Epiphany said...

Apparently, Doris Egan has tweeted an explanation for the confusion over the Michigan/Hopkins timeline. However if you have to do that, you've been rumbled.

I'll never understand how TV writers can get continuity wrong in this information age: they can post anonymously in fan forums and ask obsessive fans for info (because fans know their TV faves better than the show's own production team - FACT) or they can bloody Google it.

Maybe Doris Egan and/or Matt Lewis' mistake means that other House writers (and TV scriptwriters in general) will be a tad more careful in the future.

Alex said...

I couldn't agree with you less Alan, I think the best part of last night's episode was at PPTH. But I heard that there's a writer position on Brad Bell's staff, Doris Egan and some of the House writers would fit perfectly there.

Ariadne said...

The grown-ups at the convention

Alan, I think this is one of the things that is really hurting the show, the differentiation that started in season 3 into House/Cuddy/Wilson and House/everyone else. What it means is that the show is divided into the H/W/Cu soap opera and everything else including the medicine. The cost is that potentially good storylines for 5 of the 8 characters are lost or poorly written because the characters are considered to be throwaways.

As someone said earlier, both House and Cuddy are far from acting like adults. It makes the whole division completely ridiculous.

Not to mention that since Cuddy's age has been retconned, she's only 2 years older than Foreman and closer in age to Cameron than she is to House.

One of the things that made the show for me in the early seasons was House's relationships with Chase and with Cameron, and the Wilson/Cameron friendship. All of that is gone now, other than to drop the occasional line, House's only contacts are with Wilson and Cuddy. Mostly Cuddy, which is a pity since that has the worst writing on the show. And since I'm not a fan of the T&A look on a hospital administrator, director Yaitanes loving shots of Cuddy's ass or down her shirt do nothing to make it any better.

But I think your comment does say a lot about how the rest of the show has gone downhill if all that interests you are Hugh Laurie's scenes. This once was a quite good medical procedural show.

But Laurie is not enough for me any more. I'm going to steal a line I saw elsewhere and say I thought I would want to watch Hugh Laurie's in whatever he was acting in. I was wrong.

Jessica said...

Actually I had the opposite reaction...I liked the patient story, and thought there were good moments for Cameron and Chase coming to terms on talking to each other instead of around each other. I didn't like the resolution of the patient story as much though...the whole absent parent leads a girl to live risky, felt a little obvious.

I didn't like the conference. I hate Huddy. I don't care much for Cuddy in general actually. When she has some opinion it always gets overruled, and her having a boyfriend but being unwilling to let House in on that was similarly stupid and felt like a plot device to lead to the 'surprise encounter' or whatever. The Wilson euthanasia stuff also didn't wow me, and I wanted House to go back to the hospital and stop playing high school with the 'grown ups'.

Usually I agree with you a lot more, so it was kinda surprising to see that the conference stuff didn't drive you up the wall.

Honoria Glossop said...

MDT: The conference looked like it was shot at Big Bear or Lake Arrowhead, two mountain resorts about 2 hours away from LA. I went to summer camp as a kid to both places, and they are beautiful!

MDT said...

Thanks Honoria! I'll pass that along.

J.J. said...

I liked the twist with the investigator guy coming back as Cuddy's gentleman friend. Nice that FOX didn't ruin the surpise for me in commercials for once (or maybe they tried and I just lucked into somehow missing them this week?).

I'm having trouble figuring out why I'm enjoying this season so much, actually.

Is it because they've shaken up the show in some way with House's "growth," giving Laurie sort of unfamiliar ground to cover? Is it because they've given me a break from that hot chick whose entire fan club seemed to be made up of the "House" writing room staff? Is it because the old team has reunited, reminding me of the old days?

Or is it because of this year's DVR scheduling conflict ("House," "How I Met Your Mother," "Heroes") finally gave me an excuse to quit on "Heroes," which has made Mondays so much better for me?

Anonymous said...

Some House fans draw unfavorable comparisons to the early days but they have to accept that the show has evolved - as House the man himself has. It's his journey that we're all on after all.

The people behind House made the big mistake of not getting the chemistry right with the second set of fellows. This remains the show's biggest problem.

If they find more screen time for Chase, sort out whatever-the-hell's going on with Cameron, split Foreman and 13 up (these past few episodes without 13 have been like a breath of fresh air), define Taub's character a little more, give us back clinic scenes and keep the holy trinity of House, Wilson and Cuddy, I'll keep tuning in.

I'm enjoying the ride.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan Sepinwall said...

No discussing the previews, guys. It's one of the commenting rules.

belinda said...

I agree with Ariadne (Adriane? :D) - I detest that they finally went with an episode which promptly physically splits up the 'grownups' and the cottages. One of the reasons why I was excited to see Chase (and to a lesser extent, the rest of the old team) finally actually back on the show was to see how House interacts with them. There's a history between House and the old 3 that the writers seem to never want to talk about - instead again going for the House/Cuddy ooooh they love each other - no they don't - yes they do! bit. You know what? YAWN.

And it took me a while to place Weston as a past character Lucas (he was like just some random guy!)

And as much as I love House and Wilson's relationship (and the speech House gave), it's too much. Too much of a good thing isn't a better thing, and while that relationship was the only thing that kept me watching House through the 13 years, it's starting to feel like a really big crutch (the other crutch being H/C, and the finaly crutch the dreaded 13) the writers go to, instead of really exploring the cottages and how they feel about working with House again, or how they interact with each other (other than about Chase offing a guy) after all this time, or if Foreman feels superior/inferior to C/C since he was the only one who didn't leave the team at all, or how the other departments cope with losing their head (wasn't Chase the head of surgery and Cameron the ER?), etc. This is just off the top of my head the list of things the writers don't seem to even care about - then why bother bringing the team back if they have no desire to explore their changes with each other, with House, and with their new old jobs?

Susan said...

One nice detail that I noticed: at the end, when House is talking to Wilson, House says that the doctor whose badge he swiped (Perlmutter) is in Vancouver all weekend "with an airtight alibi." The old House wouldn't have cared if the guy was on the hook for being known as the doctor who gave Wilson's euthanasia speech; the trying-to-reform House actually made sure the doctor wouldn't get in trouble.

Anonymous said...

FYI - Episode was filmed at Lake Arrowhead Resort not Big Bear. My family and I frequent the hotel (it's so quaint and rustic you won't believe you are just 90 minutes from Los Angeles) and next time I am definitely requesting the Hugh Laurie suite.

Ms. P said...

I love House, and I actually don't mind the moments where he pauses for a second as he suddenly realizes why the patient is ill. However, in this episode I have no idea what jogged him into figuring it out. That was just too much of a stretch. Would it be a big deal to just have one of the others figure it out?

jackie said...

I'm with you Alan, for the most part, though I enjoyed the Chase/Cameron stuff, too. I won't mind, though, when that comes to a head and House gets back involved (that's an assumption on my part, not a spoiler). I'm really enjoying the way House is feeling his way, trying to find his balance. I'm sure there will many steps forward and back, but he is definitely not where he was last season.

I thought this ep was basically good, but a little disjointed. I've given up trying to figure out the timeline and just go with it. I like Lucas and am interested to see how that is going to play out. I don't care whether he's a friend or a foe to House--he can't really be a good friend, since Wilson is back in his position as House's best friend. I think the actor has some chops, so I think he'll be able to play what he's given.

I'm looking to forward to what's to come with both House,Cuddy and Wilson and with the team, new and old.

Pamela Jaye said...

I love the concept that nowadays the writers don't even have to go down to the stage door to ask the fans (Dark Shadows) about an old plot point - they can just twitter. Of course it would be better if they took notes and had a bible. Do shows have a bible or do they not?

Story editor is just a rank, right? not that the person is in charge of the "story."

Lucas, to me, seems a little "young" for Cuddy. I don't remember the patient of the week at all.
All I remember from Monday is that Donny didn't get cut (oh that was Tuesday) and HIMYM was interesting.